Mériam Cheikh
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‘Bnat lycée dayrin sexy’
From fun to sex work in Tangier (Morocco)
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For a decade, young women in school uniforms (in Morocco, schoolgirls in elementary, middle and high school wear pink or white uniforms and boys wear blue or white uniforms) were scrutinised. Since the status of pupils allows for a certain freedom of movement, schoolgirls could contribute to the depravity that characterises current urban Morocco. This image of the schoolgirl resonated with the accounts that young prostitutes can tell about their adolescence and their schooling. These young women give an important place to the themes of self-discovery and fun in their stories, in a departure from a sociological discourse that only highlights poverty, deprivation, violence, ignorance, rape or incest to describe their situation. The telling of these ‘wild nights’ or ‘tkehkih’ in Moroccan allows us to see these young girls for who they are, i.e. youths, adolescents and girls, but also reveals the processes at play when engaging in romantic relationships in which men’s financial help matters. In these accounts, occasional prostitution or entry into sex work starts in the context of leisure activities. Even if ‘youth’, ‘adolescence’ and ‘fun’ seem to go together, it is rare that we talk about these terms when we broach the subject of monetised sexuality in general and sex work in Morocco more specifically. However, it is by looking at these phenomena together that we can understand the complexities of the journey of a youth caught between expectations of marriage and migration that are hard to come by, a sense of humiliation triggered by the experience of working in key sectors of unskilled female work (industry, cleaning), and committing to a career of sex worker.

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